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Wisconsin roundup: Walker moves ahead with plans to drug-test food stamp recipients; more state news stories

Gov. Scott Walker wants to drug test able-bodied recipients of Wisconsin's Food Share program, an effort he set out on after this year's State of the State speech, shown here. File image

MADISON — Banking on a more cooperative Trump administration, Gov. Scott Walker wants to drug test able-bodied recipients of Wisconsin's Food Share program.

The state Legislature has 120 days to object. The Obama administration had blocked the idea previously. The governor's office estimates about 0.30 percent of the able-bodied adults getting the benefits will test positive, meaning the impact of the change won't be great.

The food stamp program is overseen by the state, but funded mostly by federal taxpayers. A spokesperson for Walker says he thinks Wisconsin can proceed without any action by Washington.


Death of worker at logging site investigated by locals, feds

NEILLSVILLE — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is joining Clark County authorities in the investigation of a fatal accident at a logging site late last week.

The report came in Friday afternoon at the work location in the Rock Dam area near Neillsville. The Clark County coroner pronounced the worker dead at the scene near some logging equipment. The victim's name wasn't released and investigators haven't said how the logger died.


Settlement of sex harassment claim cost Wis. taxpayers $75K

MADISON — Wisconsin taxpayers were on the hook for $75,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim against a state senator’s office five years ago.

That money was awarded to an aide to state Sen. Spencer Coggs. He left the Legislature and is now treasurer for the city of Milwaukee. Chief clerks of the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly have revealed three more complaints of sexual harassment in the Legislature over the last 10 years. It has a policy of not releasing details of such complaints and the resulting investigations. An administrative law judge found there was probable cause to believe the complaint filed by former Coggs aide Jana Williams in 2015.


State joins lawsuit challenging Calif. law on eggs

MADISON — Attorneys general in 13 states are taking California to court over its regulations for egg sellers.

The western state is accused of violating the interstate commerce clause in the U.S. Constitution. The law being challenged requires eggs sold in that state to come from hens which are kept in more spacious cages. A similar suit was rejected by a federal appeals court last year, with six states participating. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is heading the suit. He cites data estimating the California egg law has cost consumers $350 million a year since it took effect in 2015.


Eau Claire woman pleads guilty to sexually assaulting 5 children

EAU CLAIRE — An Eau Claire woman will be sentenced in March on her guilty plea to two felony charges of sexual assault of a child and causing mental harm to a child.

Sodaphy Ormston was originally charged with 11 felonies when she was arrested a year ago. Police say she told them she was binging on meth and was near psychosis at the time. A live-in boyfriend, Anthony Lee, told investigators she tried to sexually assault the children — all under the age of 10 — several times. Trial for the boyfriend starts March 26. He's in legal trouble for failing to stop the assaults.


Merger would create 10th-largest nonprofit health care system in nation

MILWAUKEE — A merger of Wisconsin-based Aurora Health Care and Illinois-based Advocate Health Care would create one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country.

Merger plans were announced Monday. When it's final, the newly named Advocate Aurora Health would serve almost 3 million patients each year, would operate more than two dozen hospital and have more than 73,000 employees. Advocate and Aurora would maintain their current headquarter locations. Federal and state regulatory agencies still have to give their approval. With no interruptions, the deal should close by the middle of next year.


Truckers protest new federal law by circling state Capitol

MADISON — Wisconsin truck drivers say a new federal law requiring them to have electronic logging devices installed will cost them a lot of money and create a safety risk.

Trucks were circling the Wisconsin state Capitol Monday morning to protest. The new law was passed to head off serious accidents caused by tired big rig drivers. The devices would keep an electronic record of the daily driving hours. The federal government wants the ELDs to help it enforce current guidelines allowing truckers to drive only 11 hours in a 14-hour period before they have to take a 10-hour break.


Bank robbery suspect arrested in Fitchburg

FITCHBURG — A 24-year-old Wisconsin man is being held for violating his parole while an armed bank robbery is investigated.

Quincy M. Dixon was taken into custody Monday. Employees at the BMO Harris Bank in Fitchburg told police a man entered the facility at about 11 a.m. They say he passed a note to a teller demanding money. Though he didn't show a gun, the people in the bank believed he had one. Witnesses say when he left, he ran west from the bank's entrance on Fish Hatchery Road. Dixon matched the description of the robber which was given to police.